Highways England has started a trial of highly-visible orange emergency areas on the M1 and M25 so they are more obvious to drivers on smart motorways.
“The bright orange surface makes them as easy as possible to spot and should also discourage drivers from using them in non-emergency situations,” says Highways England CEO Jim O’Sullivan.
It follows a similar trial on the M3 near Camberley (routeone, news, 9 August).
It is also hoped that it will encourage drivers to only use them in emergency situations.
They will be piloted on the M1 between J16a-J19 (Northampton-Catthorpe) and 22 locations on the north and western parts of the M25.
The redesigned emergency area supports Highways England’s drive to improve awareness of smart motorway driving, including what to do in an emergency and when to use an emergency area.
It sits alongside a national TV, radio and social media campaign covering key themes such as not driving in lanes closed by Red X signs, how to stop in an emergency and the importance of carrying out appropriate vehicle checks, like checking fuel levels, before setting out on a journey to avoid unnecessary breakdowns.
Smart motorways use variable speed limits to manage traffic and tackle frustrating stop-start congestion, new technology to give drivers better information on road conditions ahead and – in smart motorway upgrades delivered since 2004 – convert the hard shoulder into an extra traffic lane.
Evidence shows that smart motorways are successfully adding extra capacity, improving journey times and are as safe as conventional motorways.